Remote, Not Distant

Working on your internal relationships: How to keep your remote/hybrid team close, connected and aligned.Some people I talk to are exhilarated by the possibilities of remote and hybrid work. Others are less enthused.

But the new reality is that most of us are going to be working in a hybrid environment at least part of the time. (Even board members who attend most meetings in person will want to zoom in occasionally. And even if your office is fully in-person, you will surely be working with vendors or partners with hybrid teams.) 

This can raise both practical and social questions. A practical question might be: What’s the etiquette of scheduling early meetings across time zones? A social question might be: In an environment like this, how do I casually share the human information that I once shared in the hallways with coworkers. (My parent is very ill. I’m selling my house. My child is starting kindergarten.) That kind of sharing helps make us a team!

I’ve developed a new series of workshops that help key stakeholders in an organization define and align around a shared vision of organizational purpose and culture, within a hybrid or remote environment. What I’ve discovered is that most teams can do hybrid well, but only if they work intentionally to build connection and alignment.

Five steps toward a thriving hybrid culture

The book “Remote, Not Distant,” by Gustavo Razzetti  has informed my thinking. It shares five steps to designing a thriving hybrid workplace culture.

  • Reset Your Culture – The culture that got you here, won’t get you there. It is important to acknowledge the new realities of your employees today and reset your culture for the future.
  • Reimagine a Shared Future – Realigning around a shared purpose for your company and/or team is an important step. When the going gets tough, purpose matters and it is what builds commitment, resilience, and stick-to-it-ness.
  • Reignite Belonging – Nurturing belonging is important for any team but even more important in a remote workplace. Belonging is built through psychological safety, collective feedback, and rituals. Creating opportunities to “gather” is still important. People connect by sharing more than just their work. That’s more important than ever. This can be done through online opportunities. But it often also means creating purposeful events – at least once a year – to bring employees together in person. (Read more about purposeful gathering here.) 
  • Rethink Collaboration – Our idea of collaboration is outdated. We think collaboration has to be in one space, at the same time. For example, say the word “collaboration” and we may imagine a brainstorm session around a whiteboard. In a remote environment, we need to create new ways of working asynchronously, at different times, from different locations.  This is a new muscle for many of us, but asynchronous collaboration can be effective – sometimes more effective than our old ways.
  • Release Agility – Lastly, in a remote or hybrid environment, managers transform into facilitators, creating the environment for their people to do their best work.  Clear communication around key performance metrics is more important than ever because the work is more self-led and directed. 

Retreats can help you reset your culture

I recently facilitated a strategic retreat for the hybrid team at the University of Louisville’s Office of Research and Innovation. These are smart, accomplished people who have formed a high-functioning team, but some of them have never even met in person.

Before the event, I talked to the individuals to evaluate what the needs were and that was enlightening. There were serious, clearly business-related needs – aligning on priorities for example. But there were also human needs – the need to connect and get to know each other. A scavenger hunt helped with that! Laughter is a great connection point.

Successful hybrid or remote teams are designed, intentional, and nurtured.  If you are ready to rethink, reset, and reignite your hybrid or remote culture, reach out to me for more information about my new series “Remote Not Distant, Crafting Successful Remote Teams.” If you are interested in learning more, email me.

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